AT&T continues crackdown against unofficial MyWi tethering

It looks like AT&T is continuing the crackdown on unofficial tethering as readers have reported another round of text messages from AT&T this morning:

AT&T Free Msg: We've noticed you're continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo, incl. 4GB) to use this feature, so we're planning to update your line with the required plan soon. Visit or call 888-860-6789.

Last month AT&T sent out text and email notifications to iPhone users who used MyWi to tether their unlimited data plan. AT&T threatened to switch their plan over to the Data Pro 4GB tethering plan unless they called in, and some users reported success in keeping their unlimited plan when claiming they used large amounts of data from apps like Netflix and Pandora and weren't using the tethering feature.

It appears AT&T is pretty serious about putting a stop to unofficial tethering at this point and won't be letting up anytime soon. In addition, it was previously speculated that one of the tracking methods they used was simply targeting high data users (10GB seemed to be the threshold), but some users receiving the message have used tethering extremely sparingly, keeping their monthly data usage well below 10GB since the original message was sent last month.

Have you seen any new messages from AT&T regarding unofficial tethering? And more interestingly, do you think it's fair for AT&T to strip users of their grandfathered unlimited data plans for using the data they've already paid for in an "unofficial" way? Let us know in the comments!

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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There are 152 comments. Add yours.

Tom from Myspace says:

Is it fair? Yes.
Am I annoyed that they are doing this? Yes.

Duvi says:

Doesn't effect me... I don't jailbreak, nor would i use that MyWi, but I think it's fair and people want to hate and/or dislike at&t, but they don't understand what it's doing to the network when you have people using their network to allow other devices to get internet.

Tinavane says:

Oh please dude their network need to be invested into.

Limegrntaln says:

This is the 3rd year in a row they've spent $20 billion on their network. Now they just wrote a check and bought an entire cell phone company. How about you hand over your checkbook.

jimbo says:

Umm, no.
If I use 1.5GB in a month, it does not matter if it is a freakish amount of email, tentacle porn from my iPhone or tethering my laptop for work. It is 1.5GB == 1.5GB == 1.5 GB.

Terminator says:

Some people drink too much of that 'corporations are always right' flavored ayn rand drink

JasonGW says:

That's actually not an Ayn Rand position at all. rand believed that honest businesses should be left alone to do their work, but that corrupt, dishonest corporations that defraud their customers ought to be stopped by legal action.

mrgerbik says:

agreed ... people need to sort whats deemed 'corporate' right/wrong from what is truly right/wrong for Joe public - as in the end, it's Joe Public who keep these monstrous megaliths alive - they need to be a part of the equation to SERVE as much as we need to be part of the equation to support...

omgabunny says:

I used about 5gb last month most of which was with mywi. Luckily no notification thus far.

Ethan S. says:

So because AT&T is trying to keep their users in correspondence with the Terms and Conditions of their service that they agreed to when they signed on with AT&T and got the iPhone, these text messages saying that they are going to alter their plans so that they are complying with what they agreed to are THREATS???
Andrew Wray, I think you're delusional.

wdiggums says:

att cant rightfully alter your contract with out your express approval, this is a bluff, if they do it they are in breach and people can opt out and go someplace else. very interesting

Limegrntaln says:

I've been following this for years. AT&T has done it numerous times. Check the AT&T Facebook page from time to time. People are trying to be slick putting their non smart phone sims into iPhones, then people are getting pissed when AT&T automatically changes their plans

adagia says:

Actually ATT CAN change your plan, alter your service or cancel your contract at any time. They do not have to provide a reason or proof. It is in ths terms and conditions all ATT customers agreed to when they joined the network. search for wireless contract or terms amd conditions. I suggest reading them and being correctly informed before screaming of legalities. Like it or not

Garz says:

These people tethering using 10+ GB's are the people that kill the network. I dont JB anymore and never tethered even when I did. I hope Att cracks down. Unlimited data is for the people using it how its suppose to be used. Unlimited wasnt meant for the "unofficial" way

Guacho says:

Agree.. If some people want to use 10gb or more per month.. fine!!! But you have to pay for it..

Greystone says:

I'm sorry...I thought the definition of "unlimited" was: 1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined 2. boundless; infinite; vast 3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional. If someone has an unlimited plan then they're paying for the privilege of using as much data as they damn well please. Would any of us tolerate this if our ISP did it because we used a router on our home connection? Let's not use terms of fairness. Let's be realistic: corporations don't exist to be fair. It is a business transaction. I pay for unlimited therefore if I am being limited in any way that business transaction agreement is in breach. My argument isn't for or against tethering. It's against the idea that I should care how much data I use. How anyone consumes that data is irrelevant. I pay taxes for unlimited access to public roads whether I drive a car or ride a bIke. Whether it's an interstate highway or the information superhighway they're both conduits for getting to where you want to go.

fastlane says:

It's "unlimited" for your mobile device use, as much as you want, not to share with computers.
Restaurants offer all-you-can-eat specials because they know one person can only eat so much food. But, they don't allow people to share their meals with other mouths. Likewise, why should AT&T allow you to share your mobile device's data with larger, more data-consuming computers?
By the way, I occasionally tether with MyWi when I'm away from home, just for light surfing for a few minutes here and there, and only usually use about 200 MB per month, so I'm not at all against the jailbreaking tethering crowd. But, If I receive one of these messages from my carrier, I most certainly will stop. What I'm doing is against my contract, plain and simple. I guess I justify it by staying well under what most people use with their phones alone, streaming video, downloading large files, etc... which I've never been into.
I don't want anyone here to lose their unlimited by tethering... but you can't win an argument if you're wrong, just because you want to be right.

kingweb says:

With ANY other phone on AT&T, you don't need to Jailbreak. You can just tether without any problems, so that throws your nonsense out the door. You just tether, no hacking, no jailbreaking, no nothing.

JD says:

The unlimited plan was designed and priced for smartphone data usage, not becoming your home data connection for your PC. Your ISP also has some limitations. Try hanging a server on your home internet connection and see how fast your ISP clamps down. It's like an all you can eat buffet, you can't take home a doggy bag.

Guacho says:

I'm sorry but I thought it was well known that these plans are NOT truly unlimited... Get used to it..

adagia says:

Unlimited is unlimited on the phone. iPhones have only been able to tether for the past year/year and a half through the support of their OS, prior to the OS simply did not support it. And during THAT time, other phones had tethering capabilities. THOSE devices were NEVER privy to unlimited tethering. Blackberry, Andriod, Symbian and Windows OS users had to change to the same tethering plan. Difference being, one could still go back to unlimited at that point. Yes, unlimited data on smartphones is no longer available to ANY smartphone user unless you already have it. Being grandfathered on an unlimited plan does not provide iPhone usets any special priviledges simply b/c they are grandfathered. Nor does it mean iPhone users shouldn't have to play by the same rules as all other ATT customers who dont have iPhones. All other OS phones have always had to choose the proper tethering plan.....always....and there has never been an unlimited tethering plan in recent years. Period.

west3man says:

On one hand you're saying that tethering makes the network worse for others. On the other hand, you say that tethering is fine as long as you pay for it.
It's either a bad thing or it's not. Paying for it doesn't change whether other users are affected by it. AT&T's choosing to and ability to upgrade their network should help, though.
Paying them isn't necessarily their incentive, as they're making a killing off of iPhones and have been for years. And, of course, many of us don't want huge towers in our back yards.
There are larger issues at work here than whether someone uses their unlimited or 2GB of data one way or another.
Because, really, if you REALLY want to go about AT&T's bait-and-switch a year, ago, where they claimed that iPad 3G users would get access to unlimited data at a $30/month rate, with no contract, and the ability to turn the service on and off without losing access to that plan.
Then, in about 30 days, they took it back - even for those who already had the service. They only grandfathered access to the plan, not the ability to turn it on and off at one's leisure, without penalty.
Then there's the fact that AT&T and Apple allow downgrading of video streamed over 3G in some applications, causing awful video quality.
And that's just off the top of my head.
AT&T broke their promise long before many of its customers did.

jimbo says:

Yeah! Unlimited data is meant to be limited!

Garz says:

JB'ing is hacking the software. Unlimited wasnt meant for hackers to take advantage of that.

Greystone says:

Hacking is illegal. The courts have deemed JB'ing legal. Also, in a court of law, arguments are won not because one person is right and another is wrong...they're won because one is more compelling than another. If I purchase an HDMI cable for my iPhone and watch Netflix all night on the TV at my night job is that tethering too? Technically my tv wouldn't have access to Netflix without the data streaming from my iPhone. What's the difference if I tether it my laptop or tv? The data usage is the same.

adagia says:

If the data is starting amd ending on your phone, no, you are not tethering. Simply usingba cable for screen enlargement is not sharing your data.

Ricky says:

Precisely. Your buffet analogy fits the bill!

Greystone says:

I hate to sound petty (especially since I'm on Verizon & I don't tether) BUT the buffet analogy doesn't work in his favor. While you aren't supposed to share plates, buffets DO allow you to use more than one plate/dish at a time to enjoy your unlimited food. So by this analogy, are you saying you believe people should be allowed to tether so long as they don't share their bandwidth with anyone else? If so I agree with you. If not then we still don't see eye to eye. As long as it's MY iPhone accessing the network for data I'M consuming then how many "plates" I'm using is within the unlimited definition.

chirmer says:

That's warping the analogy and that analogy doesn't apply at all. Your data plan is for YOUR IPHONE ONLY. The buffet is for YOU ONLY. Therefore MORE DEVICES = MORE PEOPLE, which is a breach of contract and will make you pay more.

fastlane says:

I specifically said, in my buffet analogy, that restaurants don't allow you to share your food with other mouths, not other plates.
I don't know how much more clearly it can be stated.

Greystone says:

Then we agree. You're in favor of being allowed to use that data as much as YOU want no matter how it's used... If I use my iPhone all by itself for (obviously exaggerated) 150g a month that's ok. If I tether it to my laptop & use it in the EXACT same manner except it's my laptop, what's the difference. It's semantics. I'm not talking about using my iPhone in one hand to stream pandora & at the same time d/l hundreds of movies on my laptop & at the same time play Xbox live. The iPhone is merely a conduit for Internet access regardless of implementation or use. We may have to ultimately agree to disagree. Nickel & diming customers at the indifference of said customers for a service they already pay for is unethical.

fastlane says:

"As long as it’s MY iPhone accessing the network for data I’M consuming then how many “plates” I’m using is within the unlimited definition"

No. The iPhone is a plate. The laptop is a wheel barrel. And no restaurant allows you fill a wheel barrel at the buffet line.

Jimbo says:

Only if you eat the food and then poop it out for others to use after you

terri says:

I guess I don't understand how if I am using say 1 GB of data, how it is any different if I watch it using my iPhone, or if I send it to my laptop? I am not receiving any more data than 1GB, and I am paying for that GB.
Like this - I buy a can of spaghetti, paid cash for it, took it home in a a grocery bag. Now if I eat it off a plate, or eat it from a bowl, or use a fork or use a spoon, have I somehow magically increased or decreased the amount of spaghetti that was in that can?
If you say yes you are a moron. If you say no, then you should be able to connect the dots that a GB of data seen on my phone or transmitted wirelessly to my laptop is the same darned GB of data.
Nope, it's still a gallon (still a GB).
The item it is used by still consumes it.

Ffggh says:

Once i got the notification, and called em telling em im not teathering, i stopped. Teathering at least. My data usage for teathering was about 4-5 gigs a month. So now i just download TOMTOM over 3g and thus far have racked up 10.5 gigs half way thru the cycle. 20 gigs here i come. All without teathering.

Syc0IcE says:

That is awesome! Ur account will be the true test if they have a way to monitor it or not

Guacho says:

So you're a liar...
20gb a month??? Seriously dude??
Do you have a tv, job, girlfriend, life ???

Ffggh says:

Lol. I have a job, wife and kids. Ill send u my current data usage if u want. Tomtom is 1.5 gigs. It only takes 2 seconds to press dl, and it dls in the background. There is nothing to really DO. LOL.

Brian says:

People are going to break rules when they are too many rules. All smartphones have the capability to be a modem. Verizon, att, tmobile, sprint, etc all have restrictions in one form or the other. It is either a charge, metering, or throttling. It has to stop!

firesign3000 says:

While I think the price of data is highway robbery, I can understand why AT&T is doing it. Despite personal opinion, using MyWi (or anything that circumvents paying for tethering) is a violation of your contract and can probably be considered theft of service. I know people feel entitled to use their allotted data any way they want, but unfortunately that ain't how it works.

Ffggh says:

Oh yea. And i got no second notice. So maybe they can see tethering, but if their aim was for me to use less data, now ima use more "legal" data on my phone than i ever have before. You dont need tethering to rack up 20+ gigs.

Guacho says:

So you are a vigilante !!! GOOD FOR YOU !!!

Ffggh says:

Lol. Im just seeing what they can really do. Im not tethering, so they can kiss my a**.ive never had bad iphone service, or dropped calls. If im weighing down the network so much, my phone wouldnt have such a great network connection. Att is just trying to blame ppl for using their network. If you have crappy service and keep an iphone, thats your falt, not mine. I had t-mo and never got service in my house. I didnt blame other customers for tmobiles crappy service. I just got sprint.

Paul A says:

Forcing me to change to a metered plan from unlimited is what is stopping me from turning on tethering when I travel. I would gladly pay the extra $20 if when I turn off tethering I could resume unlimited.

firesign3000 says:

IYeah, I wish they would do a tethering plan for the iPhone that's like the iPad plan.

Mike A. says:

I still have an unlimited data plan. Before I jailbroke and installed MyWi, I still managed to go over 2 GB a month usage. I use MyWi to occasionally tether my laptop or iPad but the majority of my data usage is still my phone. So far AT&T hasn't sent me any kind of message about MyWi. This may also have something to do with the fact I'm still on iOS 4.0.1. I'm really lazy about syncing my phone with itunes anyway and since jailbreaking I've been even less inclined to update. I wouldn't be surprised if something in iOS 4.3 allows AT&T to see what tethering method you're using.

Matthew Snider says:

If ANY carrier added something to my account with my authorization I would sue them and leave the carrier in a matter of minutes. This is complete BS if you ask me.

Syc0IcE says:

Matt I can't agree more if you break my contract I am on to verizon free and clear

Ethan S. says:

Actually, you broke your terms and conditions first, so you have nothing in court, if you want to sue them. They have notified you to stop, otherwise they will bring your usage and plan up to compliance, so that you are no longer violating your terms and conditions. People try to sue over anything and everything, and usually, they don't have the right to sue.

xder345 says:

Exactly, Paul A. I need to tether occasionally. ATT's prices are ridiculous, plus I don't want to lose my unlimited I'm paying Verizon for a tethering plan. It's by far the easiest thing to do. Figure it out ATT. Give us the option to tether only when we need it, for a given dollar amount, and let us keep our plans intact.

George says:

I pay for my data. I shouldn't have to pay for how I choose to use it. Let bits be bits.
Damn tether trolls.

Ethan S. says:

Yes, you pay for your data, but at the same time, you signed an agreement, stating that you wouldn't tether illegally, and that if you were going to tether, you'd have a tethering plan.
Without agreements and following contracts and agreements, the whole country would fall apart.

AT&T rules says:

Actually AT&T is correct in this matter. You are paying for a data plan on the phone only, anything beyond that is not covered. So bits are bits for the phone that's it. Remember AT&T as a company has to pick up the loss from the data cards they sell.

dunn.brian says:

I have received a snail mail notice followed by text messages to two iPhones lines on my account out of 3. I use less than 2gb on my main tethering device via mywi and I am grandfathered into unlimited. My other iPhone has mywi for tethering very rarely to an iPod touch with the 2Gb plan...the third is not jailbroken and received no message. It is grandfathered to the unlimited plan and uses 5-6gbs of data.

JonP says:

So...I pay for water at my house...use it from one source to multiple taps...can even add more is this different?

Sean says:

Do you have unlimited water or do you pay based on how many gallons you use? I don't see how this is the same at all.

jasondeno says:

I'm pretty sure if you tethered your neighbors house to your plumbing that you'd be in violation of your agreement.
If not.. can you hook a brother up with some free h20? :)

Greystone says:

Counterpoint: you would in fact be letting someone else use your water. If I tether & don't allow anyone else on my connection then I am still using my connection & since I would be using the iPhone as the conduit it's not in breach. If I were to somehow trick the network into thinking my laptop was an iPhone then I would be in breach

chirmer says:

You just don't know how analogies work, do they?

chirmer says:

*do you. I apparently don't know how sentences work LOL

Greystone says:

I do, lol, which is why Im chiming in at all. I'm simply floored that more people are so blasé about being charged 2x for something. In response to the analogy comment the water company could care less how many faucets I have as long as I pay for usage. If I had an unlimited water usage agreement then I would expect to be able use as much water as I wanted in any manner I chose.

Ricky says:

I work for AT&T and I am on the team that handles tethering calls when someone received a notification and calls in. We are not tracking high data usage. Our network uses several determining factors to detec whether someone has shared their iPhone data plan with another device. The unlimited plan is mean for use onthe iPhone only. It's only $5 more than our 2GB plan so it's not like people are paying enough to warrant "unlimited" usage on multiple devices. We have air cards and MiFi devices to help oi customers get connected on their various devices. The tethering plan (4GB/$45) also allows for the personal hotspot feature whereby the data may be shared with up to 5 devices at a time depending on your phone and OS.

Kyle says:

Ricky, I'm not going to argue with what your company is doing or say it is wrong. But I would at least like someone from AT&T to admit they understand the frustration. If I pay $30 for 5 GB for unlimited data (Or 5 GB or whatever) then it shouldn't matter what I do as long as I stay under that cap. Why should I be forced to pay $45 for 4 GB of data (2 GB plan plus 2 GB tethering). It makes me feel dirty. I would gladly pay $50 if you give me 2 GB additional on top of my 5 to add hot spot. But I am not going to pay more for less data. And no, I don't JB or tether.

Mike L. says:

How about when I approach 3GB a month and get a notice that my speeds are going to be reduced at 3GB of useage until the end of my billing period. It did and went to what seemed EDGE speeds. I don't tether at all. Normal useage of GPS guidance and XM radio while traveling on my motorcycle. While using my phone legally and only features designed for the phone, and having the "unlimited plan", I don't think it's right to punish those that follow the rules. Unlimited, only in spirit. When it slows to EDGE speeds, it's all but useless for network needed benifits of the iPhone.

Patrick Murphy says:

So how does AT&T know? Is it simply usage - if its high, they assume your tethering?

Ricky says:

There isn't a 5GB cap on your unlimited plan. Where people are getting into trouble is sharing that data with other devices besides the iPhone. You wouldn't be paying more for less when you calculate the cost of purchasing data for both your cell and say, a laptop connect card. That would cost at least $75 and at most $90. Our tethering plan would allow you to connect both for $45.

Ricky says:

No. Our labs utilize various tools to detect who I tethering. High data usage does not trigger the flag on your account - but the type of device using it. Also, if you are tethering illegally and haven't been notified it is because AT&T is notifying people in waves so as not to overwhelm our call centers.

TY says:

BLah, blah, blah .... I want people to break this network... break them all... I'm so sick of this "Limited Unlimited" bs.

Ed Ng says:

I got the first message last month so i stopped using mywi and i received this exact on the picture above like 20 min ago i called to asked why i got the message and they said i was tethering i the only thing i was doing with my iphone was listening to pandora and i only have 3.5gb made this month...

fivebawdy says:

ATT's ability to detect unauthorized Tethering is way more technically sophisticated then just targeting data usage. Explanations like streaming music, youtube, Netflix, slingplayer, etc. I ensure you ATT can refute.
@Ricky - what are the methods ATT uses for detection and how can they be circumvented? Just give it up, it's inevitable devs will figure them out...and let the cat mouse chase continue

Joey says:

Well, I haven't gotten any messages from At&t, however I have stopped using MyWi and started using TetherMe and Im just using the Mobile Hotspot built into the iPhone 4. Works pretty much the same. And I can still connect my iPad.

AT&T rules says:

And terherme is much better also when you downloaded that app it said they are not responsible if the carrier finds out

Ricky says:

Notifications are sent out in regard to tethering that was done in the past few months. If you aren't tethering now, no worries. Your unlimited plan is safe. If you tether after the act by date on your notification the change will occur - if you receive the second notification and call in plus promise to stop tethering you may stop your account from "treatment" AKA plan change to the 4GB plan.

Ed Ng says:

Ricky i got a text on march telling me to stop so i stopped they gave till march 27 i think so after that i stopped and now 5 days before my next cycle i got 3.6gb made only using pandora and i got the message please explain me that

Jeff U says:

Dear AT&T,
I hate you.
That is all,

Foamysking says:

This is obnoxious on AT&T's part because no one there seems to know what is happening. That being said I got one of these notices saying I have been teathering when I have not I have a Verizon Mifi for that purpose. AT&T's only response when I tried to set them straight that I do not teather is that it is an automatic message that is sent when the system decets teathering and if I don't teather it will not auto change my plan. Then they tried go on saying plugging your phone into any device tv, computer, anything is teathering witch is obviously insane because on that logic every phone ever made has been teathered.

beaub says:

I use MyWi only occasionally, but have used it several times since this flap started and I've gotten no SMS. I use a couple GB's per month (grandfathered into unlimited plan).
I agree with others - if I were forcibly converted to a tethering plan, I'd take that as an opportunity to end the contract. The best AT&T could argue is rescission - that I breached the contract and now they were acting as if there never was one. Well, if that's the case, I'm out of the contract. If not, then they needed to make sure they themselves didn't breach - and since they would have, then oops, I'll take rescission, thank you very much.

Some Dude says:

Wow you found a loophole. Good luck, I'm sure AT&T's hordes of lawyers never thought of that.

7ven says:

I got the message today. I seriously use the following apps/websites:
Skyfire (streaming video/tv)
Atomic Web (downloading from Rapidshare, hotfile)
Downloader Pro Web (downloading from Rapidshare, hotfile)
I used 30gb regularly since january. I called AT&T and the told me their network detects tethering, i took my phone to an AT&T store and still got no help. After another call to AT&T, they told me next week my plan would change. I challenged them to prove tethering and the rep said he couldnt physically. Not an email even? Im very confused because i enjoy my service.

robnaj says:

File a lawsuit and tell them and I am sure they will back down no company wants that much bad press.

jasondeno says:

We all knew using MyWi wasn't quite legit. Now that we've been caught, it sits in my closet alongside Napster, Limewire and the pop top I used to freak a pay phone.
It was fun while it lasted. But don't act all shocked about it. If you use it, pay for it. If you don't, then let it go. If your mom sees you trying to disassemble a pay phone at football practice- run!

jwriherd says:

It's my phone I can do what I want with it. When AT&T continually profits every year and does not improve their network, guess who suffers, we do. They chars more, limit the customers and allow their network to get worse. They should poor those milllions they use on advertising into actual improvements on towers.

Westfire says:

Good to know it's your phone and you can do with it whatever you want indeed. You are using AT&T's network however, and you can't just do whatever you want with that.

fastlane says:

It's not really that complicated, is it? :roll:

Anon says:

It's so good to be with Verizon. No bandwidth limits, no tethering threats, and service everywhere! :) :) :)

TumnusMr says:

Verizon isn't unlimited, unless it has changed recently:
AT&T improved their plan slightly since the Verizon iPhone was released in that the tethering option gives you a total of 4GB for either the iPhone or tethering data. This may be better than Verizon for some as their tethering option uses a separate 2GB bucket for the data limit so you only get 2GB total for tethering with Verizon. Their iPhone-only unlimited data is also promotional as admitted by Verizon to entice customers to switch and is said to end this summer.

Brian says:

Everyone should write a letter to att. Maybe if enough people beg for it, we can get it. When att offers true 4g they should have unlimited data, voice, text, hot spot for 100 bucks. People let's all ask att for this. Show them our demands.

robnaj says:

I think that AT&T has an intern reading blogs and look for users who jailbreak and say that they use MyFi and send them texts and emails saying stop using it or you will forced to pay up because I have not heard any android rooted users get texts/emails or other phones or even other iPhone jailbreak apps users get the notice also I can't see AT&T deep packet sniffing every smartphone to see who is using mobile hotstop without paying.

chirmer says:

You know, because people who use MyWi and such have their phone numbers listed right by them so you know EXACTLY which phone belongs to that user...
Oh wait.

adagia says:

And yes....othet device owners have received notifications as well. Including Blackberry amd Android.

Solar P says:

When I signed up with the unlimited iPhone plan, AT&T did not offer a tethering option, so there is no way my contract with AT&T would have prevented me from using something AT&T did not offer such as tethering. Besides, AT&T does not give you a contract to sign with all details spelled out when you activate your service. Upon my request to AT&T to send me the contract I entered into upon service activation, they referred me to their current online contract which has changed (probably more than once since my contract acceptance). What would be fair to me is if AT&T offered the modified T&C (i.e. a new contract) in exchange for let's say $10,000 (roughly the estimated cost of comparable tethering usage on AT&T network under any NEW T&C, such as their current "tethering" plan until my current contract's expiration).

Paul says:

MyWi users are stealing from AT&T and wrecking the network for everyone else. I equate them to scum.

OMFGitsJustin says:

If someone plays AT&T $25 a month for 2GB worth of data, I feel that they should be entitled to use that 2GB worth of data both on the phone and with tether without an extra cost. Extra $45 for 4GB is stupid.

Paul says:

That's your opinion. They sell you that data to use with one phone. If you don't like it, nobody cares.

Coffeegrower says:

I've been using > 10 gb per month on my non-jailbroken phone ever since the Netflix app was released. So far AT&T hasn't accused me of tethering, so I doubt they're targeting customers based on usage alone.
I understand why AT&T doesn't want users with unlimited plans to tether, but $45 for 4 gb is crazy. They just need to give people REASONABLE options for legitimate tethering.

Boots says:

I tether. No problem here.

Marlon_NYC says:

I think it's really ridiculous that AT&T is tracking down customers using mywi which I'm sure grey have unlimited data plan what's next no pandora streaming or Netflix .. Enough is enough

sting7k says:

Would it also be ridiculous for Comcast or Time Warner to come out and turn off the service for someone who had tapped into a cable line to get free TV?

Brian says:

If att and other carriers weren't so greedy with their data plans, people would be jailbreaking. Right now I pay 30 for my iPhone and 30 for uverse for my laptop. Att is charging me twice for Internet. I have unlimited but to tether I would only save 15 dollars and sacrifice unlimited. See att requires me to have data on a smartphone. Why do I need to buy it for a computer? I think I am ready to jailbreak except I couldnt find a way to do so.

sting7k says:

Why don't you buy your wireless internet service from a company who offers the services you want at the price you like? Buy paying AT&T you are telling them you like it, they don't care what you think because your checks keep coming each month.

Brian says:

Everyone who is an att customer needs to bombard customer service with the need for a better plan. Spread the word to all att customers.

chirmer says:

I just cannot believe some people STILL think they have a right to use the data however they want. READ YOUR TOS. It's for your iPhone only! It's REALLY not that hard to understand.
That being said, I can understand being upset at AT&T because they'll take away your unlimited to add tethering. That is BS. But, the plans are the plans and if you want to have unlimited with tethering, there IS an option - Verizon.

OmariJames says:

AT&T needs to be more reasonable with their prices. I wish they werent buying out t-mo because eventually they would have gotten it and they would of probably offered better pricing. For such a large network they offer very little for every much.

sting7k says:

No, AT&T will never "get it" as long as people keep sending in their checks every month. Stop buying their services and they will get it, when you pay them you are saying everything is OK. They don't care what you think as long as that check arrives and clears.

Mr. apple says:

Knock on wood it's good to be unlimited with Verizon I use more then 12gb a month

Xxplumcrazeexx says:

We received a text from AT&T saying we were using too much and all we used was Sirius xm.

D Munch says:

Come on folks, calm down!!!!!! At&T is buying T-Mobile. All our problems, concerns, gripes, and dissatisfaction with the wireless industry, and its practices will be fixed when that transaction is complete. You just have to be patient.


I see a class action lawsuit coming if ATT indeed switches or apply plans that users did not agree upon hahahaha...

Dunpizzle says:

My friend received a text today and she got a letter from AT&T in the mail stating that they will be billed for a tethering plan immediately. She's on a family plan with her roommates and they each have MyWi on their phones for tethering, so I know they use huge chunks of data. I told her to tell them that they use a lot of Pandora, youtube, and other data consuming apps.
As for myself I only use MyWi sparingly. The most data I've ever used was 700MB twice when I went away on vacation. and was using Navigon a ton. I don't have nor do I expect to get any notice from AT&T.

fastlane says:

"The most data I’ve ever used was 700MB twice when I went away on vacation. and was using Navigon a ton. I don’t have nor do I expect to get any notice from AT&T."

Who knows, really. You might receive a notice if they're only looking at other devices used, rather than your total data usage.
I only use about 100MB with MyWi, and another 100MB directly from my iPhone, per month. But, if they see another device connected (as Ricky states above), then they might go ahead and assume that since we possess a tethering app, that we're equipped to possibly abuse their network some day. Why wait for that to happen, when they've already got us for violating our contracts... regardless of our low usage?

Jonathan H says:

That's crazy! You should be allowed to use your allocated data download however you want... if you buy 4Gb and only you want to use 2Gb for your iPhone and 2Gb for your iPad then you should be allowed. I know I do that here in Australia... and our communications company doesn't seem to mind. AT&T should be ashamed at their blatant money grab.

Marco says:

I was one of the first round to get the email warning, called them and said I wasn't tethering. I stopped tethering to see what happens. And on march I reached 21.4 GB without using Mywi. I've been using podcaster a lot and Hulu plus. April so far I'm around 19GB. So far I haven't received any other warning. But if they change my plan, I would demand an end to my contract with no ETF. And go to Verizon.
This is BS. If you pay for unlimited it should be unlimited. I will not restrain myself on using my data or phone, just because they don't like I'm using what I'm paying for.

luv2rip says:

Here is what I think is happening. If you are tethering, they will no because of the websites they filter through the data tunnel and see most of them are not application data and not mobile sites.
like, NY Times from iPhone and Desktop/Laptop will attract data from different servers. But if you have enabled Tethering and accessing the cata from an iPad or iPhone, they can't distinguish as they know if is coming for an iOS device (many of them) or a mobile version.
I agree that, tethering on an unlimited plan should not have anything to do as long as AT&T can reduce the data speed drastically after 2-3GB usage.
I do not do tethering, but most of the times I have WiFi (hone and office) and rest on the road, I have work to do rather than watching netflix movie in middle.. My 8 months actual data usage is 80MB sent and 500MB received..all emails, sometimes videos (airvideo) and, news and stuff.
What else should I say. I want t save $15 by switching to limited 200MB/month plan now ... thanks for making me look at my data usage.

Kenny says:

I hate ATT, and will use 3G instead of WiFi just to consume their resources as much as possible. I will turn on Pandora on 3G even at home. Do you know any better data consumption app?

fivebawdy says:

Netflix, youtube, slingplayer, any that stream video.

7ven says:

Verizon is offering unlimited hotspot service on the Charge starting Thursday. 12mps. Time to switch.

Ed says:

Clearly AT&T 's contract gives them the right to threaten tethering users. What amazes me is their willingness to generate horrible PR. I'm pretty confident that anyone who gets one of these notices will badmouth AT&T at any chance they get. Pissing off a paying customer is always dumb. And for the record, I nether jb nor tether.

amorok says:

I talked to ATT twice and they expressly told me that high data usage won't get you the warning, that the way the data is used is what pops up. What I want to know is, what about facebreak? If you're using facetime not on a wifi network would that show up the same way as tethering? I don't tether although I wish I could with an unlimited plan. However, I'm in the military, work 15 hour days and don't have access to wifi on base. Facetime is the only way I see my kid and I'm afraid to use it now.

fivebawdy says:

No, facebreak isn't considered unofficial Tethering.

TY says:

I have never been so unfortunate as to have ever been in AT&T's presence....
I have been tethering for a very long time on Verizon and when I got my iPhone... the tethering still ensues. If I have unlimited... Well, that's what I am going to get out of the deal.
Forget all these dumbass analogies and company sucking up.... They nickel and dime you to your grave, so I will take advantage or "exploit" it whenever I can. The exploiters want to always stick it to the exploitees, but when the tables are turned...
I would imagine that AT&T is going to see a good loss in subscibers...

n900mixalot says:

Nah. People will just complain on the tech blogs, and it will eventually die down.

Chris says:

The only question is...can they prove it? If they cannot prove that a users usage is specifically tethering than they are begging for a lawsuit.
Furthermore...there is nothing my ipad can do from a data standpoint that my iphone 4 can't do. They run the same OS and the same apps. EVERYTHING data intensive that my ipad will do (streaming, etc.) can be done thru my iphone on my unlimited data plan. Tethering an iphone to an ipad is simply using a bigger screen. IT uses no more data then the phone would. AT&T has no foot to stand on with people who tether this way.
Lastly this is a simple business model problem. If AT&T wants to fix the problem than they need to let their unlimited data plans expire. As long as folks are paying for data that equals "Whatever the heck i want cause its unlimited" they will never pay for more data. I think they are begging to be sued and will lose in court.

bergman says:

Can we all agree that we don't like the AT&T policy and move on? Let's take the discussion on to how to beat them at their game. PDAnet supposedly offers a way to tether undetected. Has anyone dug into this to learn how they are doing it? TIPB - an interview with the developer would be a good read.

Chris says:

The issue is that ATT is STUPID in the way that they are doing this. If they as a company want to introduce tethering and make it something that lots of folks will BUY thenthey need to do this:

  1. Announce that at the end of all current contracts the unlimited data plan will be no more.
  2. Announce a new pricing structure for data on Iphones that includes a. the current low data usage price, the current higher data usage price, and slightly more expensive mega data usage price that includes tethering.

The way they are doing it right now is adversarial to their customers. That is a STUPID BUSINESS PLAN.

n900mixalot says:

You mean like T-Mobile, soon to be AT&T does?

techieTroy says:

I love T-Mobile! This is just another illustration of why I despise AT&T and never want to be their customer again.

jb82 says:

Unlimited data is for use on the one smartphone device only. If you circumvent this it is stealing period.
Personally i think the whole system is a mess. True unlimited plans with tethering are not feasible as the potential data use could be huge and unsustainable. What we need is amsimple 1gb, 3gb, 5gb, 10gb plan structure and you pay for an amount of data and can use it as you want ie tethering included.

garylapointe says:

Actually, when I purchased my iPhone they were still offering unlimited data and Apple was marketing the phone as having tethering (although AT&T wasn't offering it yet). IMHO, this implies that you should be able to have both features and not have to drop the unlimited data.
They didn't say the tethering would be unlimited (and I'm not even saying it should be), I'm just saying I should be able to keep my unlimited data and add tethering to it.

Mike W says:

I am switching to Verizon tomorrow...I no longer tether since I received AT&T letter in the mail a couple months ago, but I still use the Internet on my phone a lot!! AT&T says I am still tethering and is for ing me into their $45 plan next week against my will. This is not how you treat a customer that pays ove $200 every month for both cell phones and pays on time every month for the last several years. AT&T sucks

Jteve Sobs says:
  1. I bet that the "waves" of notifications they send out were first directed to the newest users, who have the most to lose if they Early Terminate their own contracts.
  2. I'm not going to argue tethering right or wrong. However, I AM going to argue FORCING you into a new plan (and out of unlimited, if you have it). If they can prove you misused the data plan, then shut the DATA PLAN off until you call in to resolve the situation in some way. I'm sure they can send you a SMS or bump your web access to a server that explains the issue, similar to pw protected networks. Instead it's like BLACKMAIL, "hey you're tethering illegally, so uhh, we're going to modify your plan illegally, and you have no basis to argue". = SHAMEFUL = GREED = LIARS
  3. Dear #ATTfail, we all know you are doing this because your 4G network is too far away from use to pull the same "$20 Edge Data -> $30 3G Data" iPhone 1 -> iPhone 3g upgrade BULLSH1T that you think we have forgotten about.
  4. Dear #ATTfail, we ALSO know you are doing this NOW because you know we are all stuck with GSM iPhones, and can't just switch to Verizon in protest. I can't wait until Apple releases a single iPhone that works on all network technologies. We'll see how many customers you have then.
  5. Dear #ATTfail. Do you have any FRAKKING idea how many dozens of calls you drop every day for just ME??? Guess what, I haven't been saying anything because I don't want you to notice my high data use. If you come after me for tethering, whether I am or not, I'm coming after you for EVERY SINGLE ONE of those calls. I want my frakking money back. Frakking con artists!
  6. What if I use "User Agent Faker" (changes identity of iPhone Safari), and it's set to a DESKTOP version of Safari? (I hate mobile-only site interfaces). I bet that will raise some red flags and you'll be coming after me for "tethering" even if it's just a misleading Mobile Safari setting.
  7. Random #ATTfail complaint: How come I can tether up to 250k/s when doing a torrent, but if I shut that off and try to do a single web page on Mobile Safari your FRAKKING data network chokes on ONE page???
  8. Come on Apple, save us from the monster you have created.
llroxyll says:

I've got a letter and an e-mail too and deleted and won't be using the app anymore. Should I still call them to not to change my plan?
Thank you for your help!

Manuel says:

I have to share this because I just got an email yesterday 5-03 and talk to the AT&T number n talk it to them ok I dnt tether a lot even do they got me an on 5-04 the txt me saying that I continue using tether when im not so I got pissed an call them again and told them that I was recording the call and told them I was doing it and ask for names and they transfer me to other people so I did the same told them I was recording the call for my protection...they said that I used tether on 5-01 and 5-02 and I told the guy so u r saying that I used!! And the guy say OH!! The system says that you try to use it on those dates when I didn't cause I was bussy with my personal life...anyways I want it to share what happened to me today I think they r just full of bs but can not recommend to use the tethering app good luck to all you people and if any one has more info share it so we can bust this stupid company I prolly change carriers just because they make me call them twice cause of their stupid bs

JoeDirt says:

I just got this text today, indeed it seems like they are starting with the people who's contract expires first, because mine doesn't expire until January 2012, and it's been over a month since this second threat letter was sent.
AT&T has some terrible business practices, If anyone watched the recent hearings in the U.S. House of Rep. for discussions of the government allowing AT&T to buy ou T-mobile, AT&T is basically lying and saying that they can't (or really, don't want to) release 4G LTE unless they have a greater spectrum available (i.e. The spectrum already being used by T-Mobile). This is a complete lie, there is plenty of open spectrum in every city for 4G, they just don't want people to have access to an affordable carrier with GSM technology, which millions of current AT&T customers with GSM iphones would have gone to after escaping the slavery of AT&T.
They have become too powerful, and now they want to take away all of our rights. They were fine overcharging people $30/mo for internet when the iphone first came out, since most people barely used a couple hundred MB's, and I'm sure they were making huge profit off that price. Now that users actually get their moneys worth, for their 'unlimited' internet, AT&T has to try to put a stop to any form of fair value.
The problem isn't tethering, it's AT&T's greed! If you watched youtube videos all day, which you legally could do with your UNLIMITED internet, AT&T would still try to put a stop to it. So how is that any different if someone decides to port the same youtube videos to a larger screen for easier viewing, it's not! It's the same data a user has legally paid for, it's just displayed on a different screen. You could buy one of those iphone to tv adapters, and play youtube videos from your iphone to your tv, which is the same content if you run the iphone through a tv to a computer and then to the tv. AT&T are just nazis! They don't want their customers to have what they are entitled to.
I am seriously deciding to cancel my AT&T service, and going exclusively free wifi phone and text via google voice.
The real question is: Has anyone received the tethering warnings who has never tethered, but who uses large sums of 3g data? If so, AT&T can go to hell.

JoeDirt says:

Oh yeah, and I forgot to ask: Was tethering even mentioned in the original unlimited contract? I dont recall it saying anything about it. I think they modified the policy after tethering became popular.
I'm not even sure I was given a printed copy of the contract I signed, that should be illegal for them to not provide that. I want to see the physical piece of paper I signed which says that tethering is not allowed. And if that's the case, then whatever, they can rape me some more, but I guarantee they will never get my business again.
Technology is supposed to drive prices down in everything over time, in theory; but in practice, communication companies continue to charge higher prices for slower and older service, and it's a joke! AT&T needs to stop worrying about raping their reliable customers who use the older service, and should instead focus on providing a blazing fast service for customers who are willing to pay top dollar for the latest and greatest.

Curtis says:

I received the email last month and I told them I would stop. I had no intentions of stopping. Just got the text a few days ago saying that they are going to change my plan because I am still tethering. I just cancelled them. Sold my iPhone for $300 and went to Sprint. They offer unlimited tethering for $30. I use about 20-30 gigs a month so this is a great plan. AT&T can suck it. Plus I am loving the HTC EVO's 4.3" display.

Man2186 says:

We need to file the lawsuit against at&t about this because i've been paying unlimited plan for years using a little bit, now I can use to the best of it and at&t tries to charge more? So what the point of paying unlimited? Let me know if anyone have any idea. Thanks

Npizarro28 says:

That is correct, ATT have been making us buy ulimited data plans for years, when smartphones were just useless because there were no
services to use. Now that there is something actually you can use your phone for, they have a change of heart and want to charge you for usage. This is supposed to be better for the user. How stupid do they think we are! Does ATT believe that just because we are Amerians they
have a right to rob us.

None says:

I think they track by the header in each packet displaying what browser/OS is transferring that particular packet.

Spotwalker says:

We should all just move to sprint now that they've got the iPhone. You can even get a mobile wifi service with a new company called Clear. I've seen them at frys. With this service from Clear, you would go back to a regular old cell phone with Att or whoever. Take that sim card out and put it into your iPhone for the cell service and use the mobile wifi for all data. It cost about 45. A mo. Unlimited. Up to 5 devices, 4g speeds. Works grate in LA county.

Suren says:

After 4yrs of Unlimited service paid to ATT, still my usage never goes beyond 1gb. Recent month I tethered using MYWI, the usage is very limited only 3 to 4hours. Though the total usage it came 2.7gb. Today I got a text message as a first warning. In my case I never used much tethering still I got this message and it is very upset to me.
After years and years ATT charged unlimited for nothing finally putting limits when you really wants to use.
Let us move out of ATT or Bring a law-suite.. !

R916 says:

Heres how to hide your mywi tethering usage:

  1. ssh into your iphone
  2. su (enter password when prompted)
  3. ifconfig
  4. record the ip address for interface pdp_ip0
    ***it should look like this: inet xx.xx.xx.xx --> xx.xx.xx.xx netmask 0xffffffff
    ***where xx.xx.xx.xx is your at&t 10.x.x.x ip address
  5. type ifconfig pdp_ip0 xx.xx.xx.xx netmask then hit enter
    ***you must use the same ip address you recorded otherwise you will lose connection.
  6. ifconfig again
    ***now it should look like this: inet xx.xx.xx.xx --> netmask 0xffffffff

all data requested from the device are now sent to the phones internal loopback and termiate at the phone.
I have tested this and now my computer browser opens only mobile webpages. I have tethered for over a month now without an automated text from AT&T saying they were going to change my plan automatically.
***note: you will also see:
lo0 - Loopback
en0 - wifi
en1 - usb-ethernet
....pdpip1, pdpip2, pdp_ip3
I'm pretty sure these pdp_ip# interfaces are used for tower to tower hand-off when your moving and you will mostlikely get a new 10.x.x.x address from at&t when you switch towers far enough away from your areas subnet. (I have not tested this, I only tether when I am stationary, so i may be wrong)


iPhone 3G Data Features
Data Plan for iPhone (To expire on 08/18/2011 )
$30.00 N/A Unlimited Current
DataPro 4GB for iPhone (Eff 08/18/2011 )
$45.00 N/A 4GB Current
This is what I saw on the account today. PLEASE let's file the lawsuit since they advertise is unlimited data and then they want to force me to a 4GB plan. I stated downloading a movie to my laptop and then notice that they are intending to change my plan, I am going to Verizon now screw ATT they really suck now! UNLIMITED with limits??? hello!!???

Jose10040 says:

Guys Ive been calling to fight to keep my unlimited plan and there's nothing ATT can do according to them. We need this lawsuit!!!! My plan will be changed next month :/

R916 says:

I just got off the phone with AT&T, hour long call, I was able to get ‘some’ information on how they are detecting it. he was very good at running around the question of how it is done but i was able to get him a little frustrated and he slipped in his words a bit.
Where the Data Services Manager slipped was when he told me that the data coming back into the phone was ‘not terminating’ at the device. when I asked him to confirm what he said he wouldn’t, I would like to assume his silence is confirmation, hence this post.
They would be able to it by the MAC or IP of the device with minimal effort they would still have to sniff the packets to get its src and dst of the packet coming back to the device and it does carry some information on where the data came from(which site or service you are accessing).
I am no programmer or hacker but i have networking experience. Question to you who are programmers and hackers:
is there a way to spoof the phones mac address and create some kind of loopback routing which if the data is looped then it is sent to the additional device, almost like using a loopback address/interface on a router, where if the destination is not found on that network it automatically gets sent to the loopback and/or bit bucket this way the data would appear to have terminated at the device.
Just an Idea.
I’ll say it again i’m not a programmer or hacker.

Charles alexander says:

im with yall it was fine until now...iv been paying for unlimited data since iphone been out and now they want to take it away just beacuse i start to use unlimited data. what a rip off

Sinnedangel8027 says:

What's funny is you all are practically completely off on how att is detecting this. I'm an att business data support floor support. Aka the guy you get the exquisite pleasure of yelling at and attempting to lie to. Basically here is how it breaks down. You buy yourself a nice new iPhone. Put yourself a nice new jailbreak on that bad boy and decide I want to tether without being limited to how much data I'm using. Fine and dandy. Section 6.2 of that wireless service agreement / contract you signed and probably never read prohibits tethering without a tethering data plan. Also in the contract if I remember correctly there is language that states att is able to change your rate/features without notice (double check that). So the fact that we are giving you two warnings before migrating your data plan is kindness. You can call and say your not tethering but honestly when that third notification rolls around you lose your unlimited data plan and under no circumstance are allowed or even able to put that plan back on. So when you get the first or second just stop tethering. Admit to it and stop and you won't lose it simple as that. Please and thank you for being a valuable part of AT&T. :)

Guest says:

Better idea, go fuck yourself.

Harris says:

In the contract I don't see anywhere that states at&t has the right to screen end user's packet content, unless at&t simply disregards user's privacy.

Iyejcl12 says:

I think it's dead wrong. I've experienced this issue as well. I'm on the unlimited deal. I received at text and an email claiming they were going to slow my connection because I'm in the top 5% of high data usage. I have never tethered. The only reason I'm using more data is because I relocated and cable hasn't been installed yet. I called AT&T and complained about it.

Nathanteggerdine says:

I've been paying for unlimited data for 4 years and they are accusing me of the same thing. Good bye AT&T and Hello Sprint now that you have the 4S I'm done with AT&T

Michaelg says:

What is really funny, is when it is all said and done, no me (customer), no you (corporate slave). I have the two messages you refer to, AT&T can "Update" my account if you like, but with the same stroke of that key you CANCEL IT (no retention desk please) I have fulfilled my 2 year obligation, we're done anyway. A special thanks to you Sinnedangel for the encouraging words that helped me decide to depart.
Former SBC Global/Pacific Bell Employee (not disgruntled either,I got paid when I LEFT)